If one of your resolutions is to become more active and start running again, but the winter weather conditions are making it a struggle for you to actually get out, then look no further than this cold-weather running guide.
With the right preparation for your safety and health, you can go the distance and make running a success during the winter.
Cold weather running can seem daunting at times, but we want to do all we can to ensure running can be an all-year-round activity. It's all about having the correct running gear.
The temperature outside will make a world of difference to what running clothes you should wear, so the first thing when planning your outdoor winter run is to give the weather forecast a 'lil check. It could be below freezing met with an arctic breeze or just a crisp, cold day with the sun shining; whatever the temperature is, you want to make sure you're kitted out accordingly.
It's true that some winter conditions may force you to cancel your planned run, but if not much bothers you, then you will want to make sure you're properly geared up so that you one - get warm, and two - stay warm.
Our Winter Running Guide
Start With A Baselayer
As a starting point, you'll want a lightweight, form-fitting baselayer that regulates your body temperature when you're out running in the cold. These baselayers hug the body's natural curves and provide optimum functionality. We'd opt for a baselayer long-sleeve top and pair of leggings to ensure maximum warmth, especially when those temperatures are really starting to dip outside.
Designed for performance, baselayers are made from thin and breathable fabrics, allowing them to be easily layered without overheating. While running, our baselayers ensure your body is kept dry by using sweat-wicking technology to keep moisture from accumulating on your body. Any moisture on your body can start to freeze up very quickly in the cold, which can result in a significant drop in body temperature.
Your next layers should be dependent on what the temperature is where you're located, but the general consensus is that you want to dress as if it's 5-10 degrees warmer than it actually is outside. This gives you some wiggle room for the rise in body temperature that occurs once you start running and will prevent overheating.
Running in winter calls for layers that are breathable to accommodate the heat produced by your body. It is important that the layer on top of your baselayer is not too tight, but snug enough to allow for both warmth and mobility.
Essential to your winter running gear are pieces made from sweat-wicking fabrics designed especially for the job. Choose these materials over cotton, which tends to retain moisture, making it difficult for you to stay dry when running during the cold months.
It can be a bit of a task to plan your winter running fit, especially if you're short on time in the mornings, but we've got some 'fit recommendations to protect you from the elements. As a second layer, we're big fans of half-zip and quarter-zip pullovers, as they wrap around a part of your neck whilst also moulding nicely to the body to keep you insulated whilst running in the cold.
The zip detail also allows for some adjustment if you do get too warm. Doubling up on long sleeve tops and leggings is a smart idea when you're facing the lowest temperatures of the winter. You could also opt to throw on a t-shirt with heat and sweat-mapping technology over the top of your baselayer for the ultimate running fit.
When it's cold but not too cold, a pair of baselayer leggings underneath a pair of running shorts will do the trick. Or, if this doesn't suffice, why not try a light jogger crafted from stretchy moveable fabrics over your leggings? This second layer won't restrict any movement but will definitely give you that extra layer of warmth needed in the biting cold.
Winter Running Jackets
Now, we don't need to leave a disclaimer here, but running in winter can come with a series of unfortunate events. If it's not gale-force winds, it's snowing. If it's not dark yet, it's at least freezing cold. Let's face it, running in winter can be miserable.
But we can try and make it as enjoyable as possible, especially if you prepare for the harsh winter conditions by insulating and protecting yourself with the correct winter running jacket.
You've done the core insulation work by layering up, and now for the finale. A functional windbreaker lets you run the distance whilst remaining comfortable and protected from the elements. Lightweight outerwear pieces, such as track jackets can also provide that last layer of warmth without being too restrictive if the weather is dry.
We're also big fans of gilets for those below zero runs as they provide that extra bit of warmth thanks to the padded nature of the design whilst still letting your arms move about freely.
Now, if you're someone that likes to be cozy at all times, we won't blame you for throwing on a fleece or puffer jacket to make sure you're really not letting the cold weather win (just don't layer up as much underneath).
Visibility Is Key
Yes, we know you've all heard it before, but health and safety measures are here to stay. Visibility is key! Whether that's clip-on lights for your winter running gear, a headband or chest LED's, just make sure you're seen!
Running at the best of times calls for reflective gear and bright colours so that drivers can see you, but especially in winter when it's pitch black outside 50% of the time.
Take a look at some of our bright picks for remaining seen whilst running in winter below.
Cover Up Head-To-Toe
We've all heard the claim that we lose half our body heat from our heads, and whilst that might not exactly be true, it's fair to say you can notice a big difference in body temperature when you leave the house in winter without your head covered.
Throw on a beanie hat or cap to prevent heat loss and a pair of gloves to avert windburn and cracked skin. Or how about a trendy balaclava? Your extremities will feel the cold quickest, so make sure they are covered up and protected from the arctic chills (now is not the time for ankle swingers).
We know how annoying it is to have to take your gloves off so that you can complete a task with full-hand mobility, so ensure you've set up your fitness watch, pressed start run on your running app and queued up a playlist or podcast episode to last your whole run before you leave the house. You will avoid having your fingers enter the frostbite zone this way.
Top-tip: swap your earbuds for some over-ear headphones. They act as earmuffs to keep your ears warm whilst running in the cold!
Top-tip: swap your earphones for some over-ear headphones. They act as earmuffs to keep your ears warm whilst running in the cold!
Choose The Right Shoes
Now if you're anything like us, the moment you get into running is the moment you commit to hours of research, running shop visits, gait analysis checks - all as part of the mission to find the right running shoe for you. So there's no doubt you've got a good pair of running shoes, but do you have a good pair of running shoes for winter?
Since the weather is much more extreme, think snow, sleet, icy winds, your running footwear should be designed with weatherproof features to help see you through the winter miles. It's a smart idea to choose a shoe with a waterproof outer and lugs on the sole to protect your feet from getting wet and slipping in the mud.
You'll want to make sure your feet are comfortable, especially when out in the cold, so choose a shoe with plenty of cushioning, grip, and traction to see you through all-weather conditions. Make sure that you have something sturdy and stable to adapt to the change in surfaces in winter and harsher terrains and you'll be set to run the distance this winter.
Running Warm-Up Routine
Between all those layers of cold weather running gear, don't forget to get a dynamic warm-up in! Dynamically moving the joints you'll use when running is a sure way to prevent injury and get you prepared for your run. Doing this will up your temperature and loosen your muscles, making it a mighty lot easier to open the front door and face the cold.
Head over to our Gymshark Training app to find the perfect warm-up routine to follow before you head out on your run.
We've got a growing collection of gear designed especially for running, from baselayers to gilets, sweat-wicking technology and heat-mapping, the Speed collection will help you run further, faster.